Wikipedia Is NOT Wicked!

Hi, My name is Gwyneth and I use Wikipedia every day.
There, I said it. Somehow that's pretty freeing! Wikipedia is NOT a dirty word. We're doing a disservice not teaching our kids HOW to use it and how to cite in - ummm selectively & with forethought. Sadly, I don't believe teachers & college professors are ready to wrap their mind around or admit recent studies that show: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica.
Much like the Internets in general, (or the Googles, or the Facebooks, or the Twitters, or the YouTubes) many educators look upon Wikipedia with suspicion, sometimes derision, and occasionally with fear.
But who are we kidding? It ain't goin away folks! The Wikipedias are here to stay...It's an Internet Wonder of the World! And for gosh sakes, it comes up top 3 in just about any Google search you do. What? Ignore a good entry for a query? Really? Can you admit, you use it, too?

So....How do we teach kids to use it?
Teaching Wikipedia in 5 Easy Steps.
  1. Use it as background information
  2. Use it for technology terms
  3. Use it for current pop cultural literacy
  4. Use it for the Keywords
  5. Use it for the REFERENCES at the bottom of the page!
 Tech Terms Here: I love me some traditional research resources! (IE: the hard copy books of the reference section of our library) I do! I also love me my research databases  Heck, I even made a animation video for them! I love you Gale/Cengage, Sirs, Worldbook, Career Puppy and EBSCO!

But if I look up Hashtag or QR code there, all I get are a few articles but no explanation. No definition. No examples of real world use. That's just not good enough.
But when you look up Hashtags or QR code in Wikipedia you get it ALL!

For more examples of how to use Wikipedia & how to teach it with our kids, see the Further Reading links below

Click for a Teaching Wikipedia At-A-Glance Comic Tutorial! 

Oh and By the by...this blog caused me to work. Yeah, like do something I've never done before and it hurt a little. Learning something new sometimes feels ouchy and uncomfortable. Because of this posting I created a Wikipedia editing profile and pushed myself to create a Wikipedia page for my school Murray Hill Middle School (update: later forwarded to the HCPSS page) because I wanted to be there when my kids (or parents) look for us on the Howard County Public School wikipage. Another step forward in Web Presence and Advocacy - & yes, Socialnomics: be where your customers are. But, I got stubborn and pushed through the uncomfortable feeling (took a break to have dinner Buffy Hamilton & Mary Beth) and Voila! It's done...whew!
"The goal here is not to take Wikipedia as gospel but to use it to focus your research (via links, keywords and references) and get a little context (via background information). Focusing cuts down the time you spend on the project while context will get you a better grade for your effort." - by rebecca from Gear Fire

Further Reading:
Should I use or cite Wikipedia? Probably not.

4 ways to use Wikipedia (hint: never cite it)

Teachers: Please stop prohibiting the use of Wikipedia
Unnatural acts at Nature

20 Little Known Ways to Use Wikipedia
Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica
Rosenzweig, Roy. "Can history be open source? Wikipedia and the future of the past" Journal of American History, Volume 93, Issue 1 (June 2006) p. 117-144.
Schiff, Stacy. "Know it all: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?" The New Yorker, February 26, 2006
And for balance:
Yes, students, there's a world beyond Wikipedia - via Lucy Gray - elemenous !
What about YOU!?

Photo credits:
Flickr Creative Commons:
Guy Fawks: by Stian Eikeland
Workbench mele By flattop341

Wikipedia Is NOT Wicked!
authenticity, Buffy J. Hamilton, fun, gale, howard county schools, Jimbo Wales, murray hill middle school, sirs, socialnomics, wicked, wikipedia


  1. My name is Polly and I use wikipedia every day too! :-) Recently met a librarian who refused to use wikipedia with students, saying they didn't have the skills to assess the information. Which of course, was exactly the point I was trying to make, they need to learn those skills from us. Thank you for more resources and ideas to help with this.

  2. Great article! I definitely use Wikipedia in teaching my students research skills. To your wonderful list of uses, I would add that students can read a Wikipedia article to find out what sparks their interest to learn more about on a particular topic. I think it is a great way to get students to diversify their approach to a subject and get them engaged.

    Also, I often have students write and edit for Wikipedia (especially in the underpopulated Simple English Wikipedia). I find that the first-hand experience ("What? Someone took out *my* perfect sentence?" or "What do you mean I did not have enough citations?") teaches them better the pros and cons of what Wikipedia is about than any other lesson I can offer.

  3. This is very timely information. I just suggested to teacher we try something like this- have the students create wikipedia articles so they understand how wikipedia works. Yea! I can definitely use this information. Thank you for writing this!

  4. Thank you so much for your comments! Great ideas and suggestions, too! I don't think I'm gonna create any other Wikipedia pages again - it was a PAIN! But I'm glad I got my school one up!
    Cheers & thanks again for the comments...they make me so HAPPY!

  5. Gwyneth, How did you create your comic posters, like the one above on Wikipedia? I would love to teach students to make info posters that look like that! Thanks, Mary

  6. Another good use for Wikipedia is finding images. Most of the images are either in the public domain or are licensed for limited use. A student suggested this during a discussion about appropriate use of Wikipedia in college.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Do You Know About Secret Bitmoji's?

Twitter Style Book Review Lesson

Don't Label Me: LGBTQIA+ Ally